New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency on Sept. 9 after the polio virus has been detected in another county. The order allows EMS workers, midwives, and pharmacists to administer the vaccine and permits physicians and nurse practitioners to issue standing orders for polio vaccines.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a news release. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”
In July, an unvaccinated adult man in Rockland County, which is north of New York City, was diagnosed with polio virus. It was the first confirmed case of the virus in the United States since 2013.
New York state health officials have not announced any additional polio cases. Since as early as April, polio has also been detected in wastewater samples in New York City and in Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties. In August, the virus was detected in wastewater from Nassau County on Long Island.
New York’s statewide polio vaccination rate is 79%, and the New York State Department of Health is aiming for a rate over 90%, the announcement said. In some counties, vaccination rates are far below the state average, including Rockland County (60%), Orange County (59%), and Sullivan County (62%). Nassau County’s polio vaccination rate is similar to the state average.
“Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses,” Dr. Basset said; “Do not wait to vaccinate.”
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